Israel demands explanation from UK on funding political activities

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Jerusalem, July 30 (ANI): Following a declaration by a British government spokesperson that the UK is funding political activities in Israel, the Jewish country has demanded an answer from Britain.

Last week, British spokesman Martin Day had told a TV channel that the British government was "taking practical steps towards freezing settlement activities."

"For instance, we finance projects aimed at halting settlement activities. One of these projects seeks to build new Palestinian neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem and save Palestinian houses from demolition. We also finance organizations that monitor settlement activities," the Jerusalem Post quoted Day, as saying.

He further stated: "Products from the settlements do not enjoy preferential custom duties that we offer to products coming from Israel. In light of this, we can say that we are taking effective and practical steps against settlement activities."

Israeli Foreign Ministry's senior deputy director general, Rafi Barak, spoke with British Ambassador Tom Phillips and asked for an explanation apart from voicing Israel's displeasure.

Karen Kaufman, the British Embassy's spokesman in Tel Aviv, said in response that the British government was "not involved in the actual construction of new Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem."

"The UK is spending 450,000 pounds over four years to support projects in east Jerusalem and the West Bank that help Palestinians better understand and effectively use the Israeli planning laws to gain permission both retrospectively for existing homes, and prospectively for new homes on their side of the Green Line," she said.

Yossi Levy, the ministry's spokesman for the Hebrew press, characterized Day's comments as the "height of chutzpah," and said such activity was "unheard of."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, "We can't recall any other case of a democratic country funding political activities inside another democratic country. How would the British feel if another country funded political activities of groups within the UK?"

Barak's conversation with Phillips came fast on the heels of revelations that the British, Dutch and Spanish governments were funding Breaking the Silence, an Israeli NGO that recently published a report in which unnamed soldiers alleged IDF misconduct during Operation Cast Lead. (ANI)

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